The Greenstone Digital Library Software

The Greenstone Digital Library Software

Ian H. Witten (University of Waikato, New Zealand) and David Bainbridge (University of Waikato, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-472-1.ch110


This chapter describes the evolution of the Greenstone digital library project through its first 10 years of development. It provides an overview of the software, which includes both production and research versions, as well as a chronological account of notable events that occurred in this period. The chapter also focuses on the tension that occurs between trying to support two versions of the software, and our strategy for resolving this conflict, that is, of reconciling production values with a research framework.
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At the time of writing (December 2007) Greenstone—a versatile open source multilingual digital library environment with over a decade of pedigree—has a user base hailing from over 70 countries, is downloaded 4,500 times a month, runs on all popular operating systems (even the iPod!), and has a Web interface in over 50 languages. It is also a successful framework for research, as evidenced through the group’s publication record.1 How did this software project and the research team behind it reach this point? Team members often give anecdotal stories at conferences and workshops about life behind the scenes; this chapter provides a more definitive and coherent account of the project.

This chapter is divided into three parts. First we present an overview of the software in its current form. It comes in two flavors: a production system and a research framework. Next we give a chronological account of its development from the very beginning, including origins, early adopters, and our approach to the key issues of sustainability, support, and interoperability. The existence of two flavors creates a tension—the versions compete for the resources that we can commit to their development—and the chapter culminates in a discussion of our strategy for reconciling this conflict.

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